Tag Archives: jim butcher

MALCon 2016 In Review

I enjoy all of the Colorado SF & Fantasy conventions very much, but Myths and Legends Con is by far my favorite.  I think it’s the fact that there’s no drama, everyone is there to have fun, things are extremely well organized, and it’s just all around a good time.

Jim Butcher was the guest of honor this year.  I really enjoy the Dresden Files series (in many ways I think he has redefined the urban fantasy genre).  It was fantastic to listen to him talk about what he has coming next and being on a panel with him was fantastic (standing room only, too, I wish they’d put us in a bigger room).  I know that panel in particular was recorded, I’ll have to see if I can find the link.

In all, I was on eight panels, so it was a very busy schedule for me.  The nice thing was that the venue for MALCon means there’s no fighting through long corridors to get to your panel room, everything is centrally located around the hotel lobby.  So I never had any problems getting from one panel to the next, and trust me, removing that bit of stress is something that can’t be overrated.

I enjoyed every panel and even the ones without official moderators went smoothly enough, all the panelists were professional enough to talk through the subject.

MALCon is also family friendly and they had plenty of kids activities to keep children interested and having fun.  I highly recommend it for just about anyone who is a fan of Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Better yet, they’re hosting Westercon next year, so it should be a blast.

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CoSine 2016 in Review

CoSine Panel on How to Intelligently Torture Your Characters
CoSine Panel on How to Intelligently Torture Your Characters

CoSine 2016 is now come and gone.  As with last year, I really enjoyed this convention and I fully plan to return next year, schedule permitting.

 

Unfortunately for me, I didn’t get much time at this year’s CoSine, since I had to work all day Saturday and Sunday.  I did get to participate in a couple panels on Friday and the author signing on Saturday.  The Guest of Honor this year was the most excellent Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files.  If you haven’t been reading his books already, you really, really should.

My first panel was on Doing Horrible Things To Your Characters (Intelligently).  It was a fun panel and I got the chance to be on it with Sarah Hoyt, Jim Butcher, and Connie Willis, with Marie Desjardin as the Moderator.  It was a fun panel, with references to Joss Whedon, Twilight, George RR Martin… and that was just the opening question.  Without a doubt, my favorite panel thus far this year and setting a high bar for future panels.  Marie was a great moderator and all the panelists had some great things to say.

The signing on Saturday was great, although I wish I’d been able to attend more than just that.  Still, it was good to talk with some of my readers in person (and hopefully to convert a few new readers as well).

Speaking of which, the opening release of The Freeport Mutineers went great!  It peaked out around #6 on SF and Fantasy Short Reads on Amazon and I’m hoping that it reached a lot of new readers.  If you missed it while it was free, don’t worry, I’ll put it up for free again in March during Starfest in Denver.

All in all, CoSine was a great convention and I’ll definitely be returning next year (hopefully with more time at the convention!).

 

See Kal at CoSine

For those of you in Colorado, I’ll be at the CoSine convention in Colorado Springs this coming weekend (22-24 January 2016).

CoSine is a smaller convention but one I really enjoy because they have fantastic programming, great organization, and everyone there is super friendly.  The guest of honor this year is none other than Jim Butcher, author of the Dresden Files.   There will also be a host of great authors and panelists.

One of the cooler aspects of the event is they have drinks and food on Saturday night at the Author Reception and Signing.  For authors, it’s a great way to hang out in a much more relaxed situation.

I’m a bit more limited this year because I’m also having to do Army Reserve training during the weekend, so I’ll miss out on most of Saturday and all day Sunday, but I’ll attend a couple panels Friday afternoon and I’ll be there at the Author Reception on Saturday.

Here’s my schedule:

Friday:

4 PM: How to Intelligently do Horrible Things to Your Characters

5 PM: The Singularity and Social Media

Saturday

5:30 PM: Author Reception and Signing

Please come down and see me at the Con (or that other, way more famous guy, Jim Butcher).

Urban Fantasy

It's easy to imagine the extraordinary when superimposed on the ordinary...
It’s easy to imagine the extraordinary when superimposed on the ordinary…

Urban fantasy is, at its root, a mishmash of a variety of genres.  The typical urban fantasy author often combines one or more genres of fiction with fantasy in their story.  The fun of urban fantasy stories often lies in the contrast between the ordinary and the extraordinary.  Wizards duke it out with magic and bullets, Police investigate supernatural crimes, and elves drink Miller Lite and watch Nascar.   The possibilites are limitless, especially when the stories can be told in so many ways.  Supernatural Romance, Paranormal Investigation, Zombie Apocalpyse, even Superpower Crime Noir novels are all under the broad catagory of Urban Fantasy.  As a market, the genre has been extremely successful, from the Harry Potter series to Twilight, there has been far more mainstream appeal to Urban Fantasy than other aspects of Science Fiction or Fantasy.

Why is that?  Well, there’s a number of reasons.  Honestly, one of the big ones is that it’s easier for the average person to get into.  They don’t have to try to memorize funny names for people or places, they don’t have to figure out some other world.  The setting is someplace they’ve heard of, maybe even lived in.  The events and history, while different in the particulars, are the same history that they learned in school.  Sure, magic might be a smaller or greater effect in that history, but these little changes often are part of the charm.  What if the Kaiser used necromancers in World War I to raise zombie hordes such as in Larry Correia’s Grimnoir Chronicles?  What if the Red Vampires secretly seduce and abduct thousands of people across the country as in Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files?  It doesn’t change how the main course of history went, and society, places, and events are still the same.  This makes it easy for the average person to pick up a book for casual reading.

Another reason that Urban Fantasy novels tend to be so popular is that they’ve gotten their hooks into this generation.  Many kids grew up with Harry Potter, and now that they’re adults, urban fantasy seems relatively mainstream.  They read these types of books, they’ve seen the movies, they are ready to suspend their disbelief that magic exists in secret.  The resurgence of general media such as Warehouse 13, Doctor Who, and others has also encouraged this.  These are shows that amplify the paranormal, and put out logical reasons for the existance of the supernatural.  These shows are also extremely popular because they encourage such imagination and questions of ‘what if.’

Another reason for the popularity, urban fantasy stories often provide characters that the readers can easily identify with.  A soccer mom makes an easy person to relate to, she drives a minivan, picks her kids up from school, films her daughter’s softball game, and happens to channel the powers of light to slay demons such as in John Ringo’s Princess of Wands.  It is an easy buy-in for a reader.  A private investigator who helps out the police now and again could be the character in almost any standard fiction story.  When that story’s character happens to be best friends with a twenty thousand year old vampire who is the lone survivor of Atlantis such as Ryk Spoor’s Digital Knight, the story becomes interesting to say the least.  Yet everyone has the odd friend or two, so this isn’t something that would totally confuse a new reader.

Of interest to me, both as an author and a reader, urban fantasy often acts as a gateway genre to more traditional fantasy books.  Readers sometimes really like the ideas and concepts and so they’ll dive a little deeper into the overall broader fantasy genre.  Also, writers who have made their break in urban fantasy often branch out into other areas, such as Jim Butcher with his Codex Alera series.  Sometimes it works the otherway, such as with John Ringo, who wrote Princess of Wands after he established an extensive science fiction bibliography.

Overall, there are a number of excellent books that I’d recommend.  Urban Fantasy is an exciting and fun genre of books to read, and there are plenty of books to check out.  Off hand, I recommend: Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series, John Ringo’s Princess of Wands, and a few others in the Books I’d Recommend section.